Outline and Evaluate Research Into Conformity as an Explanation of Human Social Behaviour

Topics: Social psychology, Conformity, Stanford prison experiment Pages: 4 (1364 words) Published: October 23, 2012
Outline and evaluate research into Conformity as an explanation of Human Social Behaviour

“Conforming” is when a person changes the way they act and think to fit in with the majority of people in a group to gain acceptance. Kelman (1958) said that there are 3 types of conformity, Compliance, which means going along with others to gain approval and avoid rejection and accepting the group view in public but not private. Identification is conforming to someone who is liked and respected and Internalisation is accepting the group’s beliefs and accepting it both publicly and privately. However this essay will be discussing the two main theories as to why people conform, Informational Social Influence and Normative Social Influence as well as other factors that can affect as to why people conform.

Informational Social influence is when an individual goes along with the majority because they believe that the majority is right and better informed then they are. Sherif (1935) conducted a study to test this theory in which he put the participants in a darkened room with a stationary point of light and asked them to say how much the light seemed to move and in what direction, with the participants giving their individual answers. Sherif then put them into groups of three and asked them to answer again. Sherif found that the participants changed their answer to reflect the groups as they believed the group was better informed and correct, which is an example of Informational Social Influence. However Sherif used an ambiguous test, it was impossible for Sherif to measure how far the light moved, and because it was impossible to provide a ‘correct’ answer, then it was also impossible to say for certain that the participants in the experiment had actually conformed. Also Sherif’s study lacked ecological validity as the test wouldn’t occur in everyday life and so the behaviour could be artificial.

The other theory as to why people conform is Normative Social influence...
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